• Study
  • Published June 2017

Incidence and predictors of opioid prescription at discharge after traumatic injury.

The epidemic of deaths associated with opioid medications has spurred research examining clinicians' prescribing patterns. Recent studies have shown that opioids are frequently prescribed in situations where there is little evidence of their benefit—such as after dental procedures—and that there is considerable variation in prescribing rates between providers. However, the true incidence of inappropriate opioid prescribing has not yet been defined. This retrospective study of patients who had sustained traumatic injuries examined the relationship between injury severity and opioid prescribing. Investigators found that patients with more severe injuries were more likely to be prescribed opioids, indicating that opioid prescribing in this context was likely appropriate in most cases. The study and accompanying editorial emphasize the importance of targeted efforts to reduce inappropriate opioid prescribing, focusing primarily on reducing opioid use for chronic noncancer pain (where there is no evidence opioids are beneficial) while not denying opioids to those in acute pain from trauma or other reasons.

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